A Nationwide Standstill: Extending the Definition of Sex Discrimination to Include Gender Identity

On December 31, 2016, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction blocking the implementation or enforcement of Section 1557’s provision extending the definition of sex discrimination to gender identity. The Court found that the implementing regulations went beyond the intent of Congress. Today, this injunction remains in effect…

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Is a Dependent’s Gender Reassignment Covered Under Employer-Sponsored Benefits Plans?

In Tovar v. Essentia Health (U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2017), Brittany Tovar sought and was denied benefits needed for her son’s gender reassignment based on a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, as the Essentia health plan explicitly excluded such benefits. She appealed the denials based on the non-discrimination requirements of Title VII of the…

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Transgender Men and Women in the U.S. Military: The Effect of the Presidential Memorandum

What exactly is the effect of the Presidential Memorandum? Let’s take this step-by-step: To which military services does it apply? It applies to the military services of the Department of Defense—Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard, and Reserves—and the Coast Guard, which is within the Department of Homeland Security. What has been the policy…

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Attorney General Reverses DOJ Policy On Protection Of Transgender Employees Under Title VII

On October 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys announcing a new Department of Justice policy that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect employees from discrimination based on their transgender status.  This announcement reverses prior DOJ policy announced by former Attorney General Eric Holder…

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Secretary Mattis to Convene Panel of Experts to Study Transgender Service in the Military – Can He Do That?

On August 25, 2017, President Trump released a memorandum banning transgender individuals from the military. Following this announcement, Secretary of Defense James Mattis (“Secretary Mattis”) said he would convene a “panel of experts” to study transgender service in the military and make recommendations. Can Secretary Mattis do this? Yes, he can. Under the Federal Advisory…

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Why does the military get to discriminate against the transgender community? Is this even legal?

This question is the most recent culmination of a long line of military-related issues with the LGBT community that far pre-date the Trump Administration.  Historically, the military took the position that transgender people are medically unfit to serve.  Although case law is sparse, that justification was validated in Doe v. Alexander, 510 F. Supp. 900…

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Let Them Eat Cake!

The competing interests of an individual’s First Amendment right to religious freedom and an individual’s right to be free from discrimination will be addressed by the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) in the fall. A couple who married in Massachusetts, but were celebrating their nuptials in Colorado, contacted a bakery to bake them…

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